For Issue 3 (Fall 2014) of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine™, I polled some of the country’s best pilsner-makers on what makes this beer style what it is, and why it’s such a popular choice among brewers. They all agreed that pilsner is the most challenging style of beer to brew. They also concurred that pilsner is a style of beer that has stood the test of time, remaining generally unaltered since its inception.
Here are some of my favorite proclamations about pilsner that they shared.
“If you can brew a pilsner you can brew any other style of beer.” Mike Sardina, assistant executive officer at Societe Brewing in San Diego, California
“I’m trying to replicate Pilsner Urquell as close as I possibly can. If you go to the brewery, you get to taste it when you’re going through the tour. It’s beer that’s made they way they made pilsner 100 years ago—in big wooden barrels. They give you the taste straight out of the barrel, and it is absolutely delicious. It tastes nothing here [in the United States] like it does in the Czech Republic.” Rick Allen, owner and brewer at Heater Allen Brewing in McMinnville, Oregon
“Pilsner is the quintessential beer. It’s easy to drink; it’s digestable; and it’s good.” Ro Guenzel, head brewer at Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado
“Honestly, you could make a big deal about traditional malts and all continental, European Noble hops. But it’s the process and the brewing equipment that matters a lot more [when brewing pilsner.]” Jeremy Marshall, head brewer at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California
“I used to work at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville. We made ales. After I got off work, everybody had an IPA in their hand. . . . It seems in recent years that we’re finally getting people to appreciate the pilsner.” Mike Hutson, lead brewer at Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, California
“Pilsner naturally calls for a little more control and restraint. It gives our brewers the opportunity to show restraint in hopping.” Bill Covaleski, president and brewmaster at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pennsylvania
“As the grey hairs come in, the desire for alcohol content goes down. It’s no secret that the line at the Craft Brewers Conference for pilsner is the longest.” Jeff Erway, president at La Cumbre Brewing Co. in Albuquerque, New Mexico